Environment

Louisville Gas & Electric is exploring adding a limited amount of renewable energy to its portfolio.

The utility is asking companies in Kentucky and surrounding states for proposals to provide between 10 and 200 megawatts of renewable energy. Contracts would range between five and 20 years.

LG&E spokeswoman Natasha Collins said the utility is interested in evaluating the costs and feasibility of adding more renewable energy.

“...with the recent growth that we have seen in the renewable market and the interest in declining costs we wanted to issue a request,” Collins said.

Right now about 99 percent of the energy Louisville Gas & Electric provides comes from coal and natural gas, both of which are fossil fuels.

If the company added 200 megawatts of renewable energy to its portfolio, it would represent less than seven percent of its current generation capacity.

LG&E said the inquiry is non-binding and is not a commitment to purchase renewable energy, according to the request for proposals.

Collins said adding to the utility’s portfolio of renewable power would contribute to parent company PPL Corporation’s goal to cut the company’s carbon dioxide emissions 70 percent from 2010 levels by 2050.

That timeline is substantially longer than one issued by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, which warned that the world has little more than a decade to drastically decrease its dependence on fossil fuels in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Louisville Climate Action Network Executive Director Sarah Lynn Cunningham said it’s important that utilities consider renewable options, and that it’s really a question of when they adopt, not if they adopt renewables.

“I don’t think they have any way around it,” Cunningham said. “It’s a matter of when, and it’s a matter of how much longer are they going to put this off and how much longer are they going to screw the customer in the interim?”

LG&E recently completed modernization efforts on the Ohio Falls Generating Station, a hydroelectric dam with an energy output of about 100 megawatts. The Ohio Falls Generating Station is one of two hydro electric power plants owned by Louisville Gas & Electric. The other, Dix Dam, has also been operating since the 1920s.

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.